Augsburg, February 13, 2018. Until now, small satellites have frequently had to “ride piggyback” on larger missions. In an effort to find ways of reducing the time required to place them in low earth orbits, the European Space Agency ESA recently instructed MT Aerospace AG (a subsidiary of listed technology group OHB SE) among others to conduct feasibility studies into micro-launchers.
MT Aerospace is exploring three different innovative launch service ideas. In one case, the plan is for the two- or three-stage micro-launcher to lift off from the ground to place payloads with a weight of up to 200 kilograms in orbit. Contributed by Dassault Aviation to the study, the “Daneo” scenario provides for the launcher to lift off from an airborne aircraft. This would be a viable option for satellites weighing 50 kilograms. A further option being explored involves launching small satellites with a mass of up to 75 kilograms from the “Bloostar”, a stratospheric vehicle, which is a cross between a balloon and a rocket developed by Barcelona company Zero 2 Infinity.
MT Aerospace in conjunction with its respective partner will now be assessing the technological and economic feasibility of all three alternatives, developing business cases for comprehensive launch service packages for a low earth orbit and identifying the most promising option. “A European commercial microlauncher can meet the growing need for dedicated launch services to companies with small satellites,” commented Jerome Breteau, manager of ESA’s Future Launchers Preparatory Programme, under which the studies have been awarded, in the corresponding agency report.
“Launchers and their technological and economic optimization form part of our core business. “We are proud to be involved in the development of dedicated micro-launcher systems as such developments will help to place and keep Germany and the rest of Europe at the cutting edge of space technology,” says Hans J. Steininger, CEO of MT Aerospace.
MT Aerospace has been successfully involved in all ARIANE launchers for more than 50 years and is currently also working on the new ARIANE 6 including the launch pad at the space port in Kourou, French-Guiana.